Someone Punk’d the CBS Science Desk!

This is the most irresponsible “science” “reporting” I have seen in yonks:

New research compiled by Australian scientist Dr. Tom Chalko shows that global seismic activity on Earth is now five times more energetic than it was just 20 years ago.

The research proves that destructive ability of earthquakes on Earth increases alarmingly fast and that this trend is set to continue, unless the problem of “global warming” is comprehensively and urgently addressed.

Cursory examination reveals that Dr. Tom Chalko is a complete wackaloon! Even if you do not know the first thing about seismology, consider the warning signs that this “research” may actually be an attractive organic fertilizer:

  • Research article is published in a journal where 5/5 articles in the current issue are authored solely by… Dr. Tom Chalko!
  • Research article cites Wikipedia
  • Research article uses Observable Weird Capitalization for emphasis
  • Associated Press reporter was too lazy to call up any respectable seismologists for a second opinion, and probably did not alter Dr. Tom Chalko,, Ph.D.’s press release. Which would explain the Observable Weird Capitalization in the news article.

CBS (and any other news outlet that reprints this story) should be ashamed.

Update: CBS took the story down, and is now vigorously blaming the AP, who is, in turn, vigorously blaming CBS.

All I wanna know is, how can I get my crackpot press releases republished – even if only briefly – in major news outlets?

Hat tip: Emory Kimbrough.


  1. John McKay wrote:

    What do you think the odds are that climate change denialists and anti-science crusaders (like Ben Stein) will be using this to prove scientists don’t know what they are talking about?

  2. Lubo? Motl wrote:

    Dear Maria, exactly, yours are procedures and hints that the science journalists could be able to learn even if they don’t follow details of geology. All the best, Lubos

  3. Christopher wrote:

    I don’t know about the pseudoscience promoters at large, but climate change denialists will. They’ll point out that the story probably got saw light because they attached “global warming” to it, and said global warming is just another MSM-greeny-leftly fad (of course, the first part is true, IMHO; the second is completely false).

  4. Chris Rowan wrote:

    Hell, they could have just Searched the USGS website

    Maybe we should to a ‘crackpot geology’ edition of the Accretionary Wedge….

  5. Karen wrote:

    Hey, all you need to do is get your wackaloon idea captured by Google, and downloaded by one believer, and your 15 minutes of fame can be extended forever!

    a ‘crackpot geology’ edition of the AW would be downright depressing, since ICR and others generate so much of it.

    But, being a geologist-in-training (grad student), I have a story (secondhand, but from several of the participants)…
    A few years ago, during spring break, an undergraduate class from my institution was poking about the southeastern California mountains, looking at various geologic wonders. Walking up a steep canyon, they encountered a pair of hikers, apparently father and son. They observed the father explaining that a meteorite had crashed down and carved the canyon. The whole lot of them were rendered speechless. None of them recovered sufficiently to talk to the pair before they’d continued down the trail.

    I fear a ‘crackpot geology’ AW would be far too easy — and far too depressing.

  6. csrster wrote:

    Lubos Motl thinks this guy is a crackpot? Hey, maybe I should check him out …

  7. decrepitoldfool wrote:

    End-times/’Left-Behind’ types like to think that just before Jesus’ return there will be a large uptick in Earthquakes. In addition to climate science denial, we can expect some of the whackier religious to seize upon this as evidence of something or other. Won’t matter to them about the punkage.

  8. MRW wrote:

    It’s still up in quite a number of places…

    for example:

    … but at least it’s labeled as a press release there.

  9. Tuff Cookie wrote:

    That’s completely depressing. Chalko and CBS have just caused the intensity of my craving for dark-chocolate-based-depression-mitigation to increase alarmingly fast.

    On the bright side, the word “wackaloon” makes me laugh.

  10. Cherish wrote:


  11. cfeagans wrote:

    Chalko also supported Michael Desmarquet’s book the Thiaoouba Prophecy, in which Desmarquet claims he was abducted by aliens and shown the wonders of universe (described in full, Technicolor, woo detail). I think Chalko’s woo is mentioned in Desmarquet’s book.

    Search google for keyword “thiaboob” and click the only link it returns for a laugh.

  12. dave X wrote:

    To get your crazy press releases published, start by making them available on a wackaloony website:

  13. Greg wrote:

    Just goes to show how readily the media accepts press release. And this, only slightly less valid than Sharon Stone’s description of the earthquake’s cause.

  14. delagar wrote:

    Now my nutcase brother will be citing this to me for years to come, because “a scientist” published it.

  15. Stephen wrote:

    I’m willing to believe he’s a nutcase, though i haven’t looked at his data. But global warming could have geological effects. Wasn’t there a story just recently about how Venus style warming might have shut down it’s plate tectonics? That was interesting.

    I have, for example, read self-published papers by ID proponents. Nothing of interest yet. But maybe one day, i’ll stumble on something good.

  16. a saur wrote:

    “Global warming,” in the sense of climate change, refers to warming of the atmospheric shell around Earth not the “globe” as such. The interior of the earth is what drives plate tectonics, and the heat engine running them is far, far hotter than anything our atmosphere is likely to attain. The theory of what happened on Venus is actually that a huge volcanic event, global in scale, generated the surface warming, leading to feedback into the subsurface which eventually shut down the tectonics. Volcanism of course originates in the subsurface, fed by heat from the deep interior, so what basically happened (if indeed the theory is correct) is a redistribution of interior heat. It helped that the atmosphere of Venus is about 100 times thicker than that of earth, so the heat brought to the surface by volcanism is not dissipated efficiently there.

  17. Nick wrote:

    “Search google for keyword “thiaboob” and click the only link it returns for a laugh.”

    Ah, it leads back here?…

    Also, Thiaoouba Prophecy has a wikipedia page, excuse while I go off and do my best to afd it *evil grin*

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